Finally, Netflix is streaming the second season of “The Last Kingdom“, the dramatization of Bernard Cornwell’s well researched and written “Saxon Tales“.
Uhtred, the dispossessed heir of Bebbanburg, a Saxon raised by Danes, finds himself in the service of Alfred, King of Wessex, the last real Saxon kingdom in Great Britain and a wealthy and well-organized little country. Neither man wants the company of the other but Alfred needs Uhtred’s expertise in battle, with the Danes especially, and Uhtred needs a powerful ally if he is to reclaim his home.
The major happenings in Season 2 concern Alfred’s attempt to become King of All the English while keeping the peace with the Danes. It gets a more complicated than usual when the Danes take the Mercian port of London. It gets way more complicated when the Mercians arrive to take it back.
The pressure from the Danes in relentless and Uhtred is Alfred’s go-to man-of-action although Uhtred is unruly and a dedicated pagan. Unfortunately, as a skillful fighter, an astute commander, and a man raised by Danes, Uhtred is a potential threat to every pretender on the island. This creates political enemies for him in Alfred’s court and in the Church.
I like a lot about the series although it’s pared down from Cornwell’s wonderfully detailed books. It’s bloody and muddy. It looks like the producers have gone to pains to portray the time faithfully. There’s no resemblance at all to a “Camelot”-like or Dungeons and Dragons version of the Middle Ages. There are no new great stone castles or buildings of any kind because the only such in Great Britain at the time were Roman ruins.
A touch I enjoy especially is a trick that appears when the action moves to a different setting. The name of the setting appears in Old English and morphs into Modern English. So Witanceaster becomes Winchester, Beamfleot becomes Benfleet, Dunholm becomes Durham, Eforwic becomes York, etc. This connects the history to the present.
Good blend of English and Scandinavian actors too.
I can’t wait for Season 3!